My name is Raissa, I am from Rwanda and recently moved to Canada to study. I was inspired by The GenWell Project and the #GenConnect campaign launched by the students of Centennial College to reach out to a senior in my community, I chose to connect with Cecilia, 82-years-old, who lives at the Bridlewood retirement community.

At the age of 82, Cecilia is known to be the most interesting, vibrant, and cheerful senior in her community. When we first chatted, I asked about her life and what keeps her on her toes.

“It has never been easy for me; I lost all my family in the Rwandan genocide. It broke me, I spent a lot of years wishing I could have been the one who died. It was only much later when I came to Canada that I realized I am alive for a reason.”

She told me about the Rwandan genocide in 1956 and 1994, details I did not know as a Rwandan young adult in Canada. She also shared the hardships she endured with readjusting to a normal life in Canada.

She told me how most people live life with so many questions, fears and scars from the past, but they carry on, just as she has.

“We have to expose those wounds so we can start talking and healing, talking to people, sharing stories and reaching out to those in need,” says Cecilia. “This is what healed me.”

On our next call, Cecilia explained how the grief of losing all her loved ones was unbearable, she also struggled with being alone and lonely in a foreign country.

It took me a long time to realize there are “heroes” everywhere in Canada.”

Cecilia’s heroes are her friends in the retirement home, her caregivers and everyone around her.

“Healing, trusting, and connecting with others is the only way to move forward.”
I was amazed by Cecilia’s strength, her will to live a purposeful life, to smile, to love.

I have so much admiration for this woman. At the end of our last conversation, I thanked her for chatting with me because her words impacted me so greatly.

I could hear her smiling through the phone when she replied, “you made my day, now go change the world for me and make sure you call me again”

This made me realize how we can make others happy by just having a conversation and it makes us feel happier as well, it has been scientifically proven that it has health benefits for both of us, i don’t know how no one ever told me this before.

Thank you The GenWell Project for bringing out this cause, I am so grateful to be part of making the world a happier and healthier place to live in.


Reach out to a senior today and post your story @GenWellProject #GenConnect #humanconnection.